a1 The London School of Economics and Political Science
Despite a sophisticated understanding of the impact of electoral institutions on macrolevel political behavior, little is known about the relationship between these institutions and microlevel legislative behavior. This article reviews existing claims about this relationship and develops a model for predicting how electoral institutions affect the relationship between parliamentarians and their party principals in the context of the European Parliament. The European Parliament is an ideal laboratory for investigating these effects, because in each European Union member state, different institutions are used to elect Members of European Parliament (MEPs). The results of this model, tested on four hundred thousand individual MEP vote decisions, show that candidate-centered electoral systems (such as open-list proportional representation or single-transferable-vote systems) and decentralized candidate-selection rules produce parliamentarians independent from their party principals. By contrast, party-centered electoral systems (such as closed-list proportional representation systems) and centralized candidate-selection rules produce parliamentarians beholden to the parties that fight elections and choose candidates: in the case of the European Parliament, the national parties.
Simon Hix is a reader in European Union politics and policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is coeditor of European Union Politics and director of the European Parliament Research Group. He is the author of The Political System of the European Union (1999), coauthor (with Christopher Lord) of Political Parties in the European Union (1997), and coeditor (with Klaus Goetz) of EuropeanisedPolitics? European Integration and National Political Systems. His current research is on comparative parliamentary voting.
* I would like to thank Giancomo Benedetto, Clifford Carrubba, Christophe Crombez. David Epstein, David Farrell, Fabio Franchino, Matthew Gabel, Simon Hug, George Jones, Ken Kollman, Vanentino Larcinese, Paul Mitchell, Abdul Noury, Sharyn O'Halloran, Gerald Schneider, Roger Scully, and the three anonymous referees for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article. The research for this article was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom (grant No. L213 25 2019).